Sunday, December 15, 2019

Climate change is pumping our food full of carbs

I last studied botany more than 50 years ago so I cannot tell if the reasoning below is right or not.  But it sounds possible.  The question to ask, however, is "So what?"  If some of our food has a higher calorie count it hardly matters to us -- given the "obesity epidemic".  We already eat to excess and calorie counting is an accepted way to counter that.

But what about poor countries?  Having more carbohydrates in their food should help them avoid hunger.  So long live carbohydrates!

I have lost contact with the latest diet fads but I think refined sugar is now the villain.  Carbohydrates have been rather praised in some eras.  I suspect they are seen as good now too

The claim that having more carbohydrates in your food is a "nutritional decline " rather bamboozles me.  All food is nutrition.  They seem to assume that only some rare elements in food are nutrition, which is rubbish

It could be, as claimed, that increased carbs drive out other nutrients but, if so, where is the evidence that the effect is strong enough to matter to human health?

Mother Jones:

OF ALL THE INSULTS that greenhouse gases hurl at our food supply—a warming climate that triggers more severe droughts and floods in key agriculture regions like the Midwest and California, declining yields of staple crops—the most insidious may involve the deterioration of the nutritional quality of plants we eat.

That’s the startling message of growing research led by Irakli Loladze, a mathematical biologist with joint appointments at the Bryan College of Health Sciences in Nebraska and Arizona State University.

Ever since we started burning massive amounts of coal three centuries ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have nearly doubled. Plants are very flexible in their chemical composition, Loladze says. When the air that surrounds plants is richer in CO 2, they use it to synthesize more carbohydrates, including starches and sugars, which they store in their cells. These carbs dilute other beneficial molecules, including protein and some vitamins and minerals. This has no harmful effect on the plants themselves, which “aren’t the least concerned about the quality of our nutrition. We eat them—we’re kind of their enemies,” Loladze says.

For people, this nutritional decline could be life-changing. Consider your breakfast toast. The bread’s wheat contains lower levels of protein than the wheat that people were consuming decades ago, Loladze says, citing a 2004 study led by Lewis Ziska, then a Department of Agriculture researcher. Every bite of toast delivers more carbs and less protein. Other studies show lower quantities of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

What’s true for humans is also true for the animals that rely on plants. And the deficit moves up the food chain, from the rabbit nibbling on weeds to the bobcat eating that rabbit. The effect has already shown in cows, which gobble up grasses with declining nourishment. For a 2017 study, researcher Joseph Craine, along with Texas A&M and University of Maryland scientists, compared cattle dung samples taken between 1994 and 2015 from pastures across the country. The grasses showed a nearly 10 percent decrease in protein over the time range, enough to cause the cattle to gain weight more slowly. To compensate for the protein gap, beef producers would have had to spend an extra $1.9 billion on soybean feed to supplement the animals’ diet, the scientists calculated—added pressure for cash-strapped ranchers.

If you haven’t heard about this, you’re not alone. President Donald Trump’s agriculture department has hardly trumpeted the studies. In a 2018 paper, Loladze and a team that included the usda’s own researchers found that increasing CO 2 concentrations had diminished the nutritional quality of rice, causing significant drops in protein, iron, and zinc, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9. Rather than sound the alarm about the decline of a crucial staple crop, the usda declined to publicize it and tried to convince the University of Washington not to either, as Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich reported in June. In Trump’s usda, Loladze says, there’s an “implicit directive not to promote agriculture research related to climate change.”

What’s to be done, given that global carbon emissions show no sign of dropping anytime soon? Currently, farmers are rewarded for total output, not for the amount of nutrients in their crops. “If we want to make our food more nutritious, we should change the incentives,” Loladze says. “We should start paying farmers for quality.”

Research into farmers’ best chances for counteracting the dilution effect remains in its infancy. But scientists from the United Kingdom have hit upon a possible solution for wheat. The scientists identified wheat strains that are especially good at developing a symbiotic relationship with common soil-dwelling fungi. The wheat plants give the fungi some of the carbon dioxide they suck from the air, in exchange for nitrogen and phosphorous, key elements for plant growth. The symbiosis means less reliance on fertilizers—a core driver of climate change—but also potentially less carbon, and thus carbs, diluting the nutrients of the wheat. Sounds like a line of inquiry that the usda should pursue and publicize if its climate denial fever ever breaks.


Greta Thunberg Is the Perfect Hero for an Unserious Time

One of my readers writes: "Greta Thunberg has become the Christ Child of the Environment Religion and is destined to be sacrificed on the cross of Global Warming"

I am slightly apologetic to mention it but the Time man of the year in 1938 was Adolf Hitler. Will Greta be as poorly regarded in decades to come?  It's possible. Hitler was a Greenie too.  And in future the Global Warmists of the present day may look like dangerous madmen

Who better than a finger-wagging teen bereft of accomplishment, or any comprehension of basic economics or history, to be Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019? Greta Thunberg’s canonization is a perfect expression of media activism in a deeply unserious time.

Has there ever been a less consequential person picked to be Person of the Year? I doubt it. I mean, Wallis Simpson, 1936’s Person of the Year, got King Edward VIII to abdicate the throne. Thunberg can’t even get you to abdicate your air-conditioning.

These days we celebrate vacuous fire and brimstone. “Greta Thunberg”—the idea, not the girl—is a concoction of activists who have increasingly taken to using children as a shield from critical analysis or debate. She’s the vessel of the environmentalist’s fraudulent apocalypticism-as-argument. Her style is emotion and indignation, histrionics and fantasy. She is a teenager, after all.

How dare you attack a poor defenseless child who suffers from Asperger syndrome!

You’ll notice that, on one hand, Thunberg’s champions demand that the world take her Malthusian crusade seriously, and on the other, they feign indignation when you actually do. The argument that young people, because they will inherit the future, are also best equipped to comprehend it is as puerile as any of Thunberg’s positions.

Perhaps a better question is this: What kind of parents, editors, producers, or U.N. officials would thrust a vulnerable child, with Asperger syndrome, no less, into a complex and contentious debate? I have great sympathy for her. It’s her ideological handlers who have stolen her childhood.

Surely, we should be allowed to consider the positions of Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year? Because the problem with Greta Thunberg—the idea, not the girl—is that she proposes not only that the people of her native Sweden abandon modernity but that billions of people in Asia and Africa remain in destitution. Thunberg, unlike many of her ideological allies, does not hide the truth of modern environmentalism. She believes that wealth and economic growth—modernity—are the problem.

Shamefully, radical environmentalists have convinced Thunberg and millions of others that the world is on the precipice of “mass extinction.” Even poor Prince Harry struggles to get out his Kensington Palace bed and start the day, so crushed is he by the weight of “eco-anxiety.” (You know, I have some ideas on how he might lower his carbon footprint.)

Like Joan of Arc, as Thunberg’s mother tells it, she experienced her first vision in her early teens, going months without eating properly. Thunberg, her heart rate and blood pressure indicating starvation, stopped talking to anyone but her parents and younger sister.

Rather than helping Thunberg overcome this irrational dread, her parents sacrificed her childhood to Gaia. Now, Thunberg is a child warrior, unrestrained by fact or reason, the human embodiment of years of fearmongering—in our schools, in culture, in our news—over progress, technology, and wealth.

Thunberg is merely repeating “unassailable science,” Time claims. “Oceans will rise. Cities will flood. Millions of people will suffer.” The unassailable truth is that climate deaths have plummeted dramatically and billions of people have been lifted from abject poverty by the system that Thunberg assails.

There is no “unassailable science” that tells us how the future looks: what technologies humans will devise, how they will adapt. One imagines a magazine such as Time, which once published pieces about now-discredited predictions of a “population bomb” and global cooling, might understand that the future is always more complicated than we imagine.

The reality is that Thunberg was bequeathed the healthiest, wealthiest, safest, and most peaceful world that humans have ever known. She is one of the luckiest people ever to have lived. And unlike most of her ancestors, she can continue to be a professional activist her entire life, thanks to market economies and emerging technological advances.

In a just world, she would be sailing her high-tech, multimillion-dollar, ocean-racing yacht and crew to the United Nations to thank the United States for helping to create this uniquely wonderful circumstance. In a just world, she would be in school with her friends and teachers.

It’s been years, of course, since Time, or the magazine’s Person of the Year, mattered very much. The truth, though, is that Time did an admirable job of mapping out consequential people of the 20th century. Looking back now, I see a list populated by the men and women, nefarious and heroic, who helped shape the modern world. Sadly, Time has come a long way from “The Hungarian Freedom Fighter,” its choice for Man of the Year in 1957.

If we Americans lived in a more serious time, the Hong Kong freedom fighter, the men and women who risk their lives for liberty, would be Time’s Person of the Year. We don’t.


The dangerous winds of trying to prevent climate change

Inconvenient facts show why wind energy is not renewable, sustainable or climate-friendly

Duggan Flanakin

Wind turbines continue to be the most controversial of so-called “renewable” energy sources worldwide.  But, you say, wind is surely renewable. It blows intermittently, but it’s natural, free, renewable and climate-friendly.

That’s certainly what we hear, almost constantly. However, while the wind itself may be “renewable,” the turbines, the raw materials that go into making them, and the lands they impact certainly are not. And a new report says harnessing wind to generate electricity actually contributes to global warming!

Arcadia Power reports that the widely used GE 1.5-megawatt (MW) turbine is a 164-ton mini-monster with 116-foot blades on a 212-foot tower that weighs another 71 tons. The Vestas V90 2.0-MW has 148-foot blades on a 262-foot tower, and a total weight of about 267 tons. The concrete and steel rebar foundations that they sit on weigh up to 800 tons, or more. And the newer 3.0-MW and even more powerful turbines and foundations weigh a lot more than that.

Citing National Renewable Energy Laboratory data, the U.S. Geological Survey notes that wind turbines are predominantly made of steel (which comprises 71-79% of total turbine mass), fiberglass and resin composites in the blades (11-16%), iron or cast iron (5-17%), copper (1%), aluminum (0-2%), rare earth elements (1-3%) and other materials. Plus the concrete and rebar that anchor the turbines in the earth.

It takes enormous amounts of energy (virtually all of it fossil fuels) to remove the overlying rock to get to the ores and limestone, refine and process the materials into usable metals and concrete, fabricate them into all the turbine components, and ship everything to their ultimate locations. Petroleum for the resins and composites – and all that energy – must also be extracted from the earth, by drilling and fracking, followed by refining and manufacturing, again with fossil fuel energy.

Wind turbine transportation logistics can be a deciding factor in scheduling, costing and locating a project, Wind Power Monthly admits. The challenge of moving equipment from factories to ports to ultimate industrial wind power generation sites has become more formidable almost by the year, as the industry has shifted to larger and larger turbines. Offshore turbine sizes (up to 10 megawatts and 650 feet in height) present even more daunting logistical, maintenance and removal challenges.

Back in 2010, transportation costs totaled an average 10% of the upfront capital cost of a wind project. Transporting the nacelles (housings for the energy-generating components, including the shaft, generator and gearing, to which the rotor and blades are attached) typically required a 19-axle truck and trailer that cannot operate using renewable energy and which a decade ago cost about $1.5 million apiece. Those costs have continued to escalate.

Highways and city streets must often be closed down during transport to wind farm sites hundreds, even thousands, of miles away – to allow nacelles, 100-foot tower sections and 150-foot blades to pass through.

Transmission lines and transformers add still more to the costs, and the need for non-renewable materials – including more steel, copper, aluminum and concrete. To get wind-generated energy from largely remote locations to cities that need electricity and are eager to cash in on the 2.3 cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit, the U.S. is spending $47.9 billion to construct transmission lines through 2025.

Of that, $22.1 billion will be spent on transmission projects aimed at integrating renewable energy into the existing power grid, without making it so unstable that we get repeated blackouts.

On top of all that, wind turbines only last maybe 20 years – about half the life spans of coal, gas and nuclear power plants. Offshore turbines last maybe 12-15 years, due to constant corrosion from constant salt spray. Then they have to be decommissioned and removed. According to Isaac Orr, policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, the cost of decommissioning a single turbine can reach half a million dollars. Then the old ones have to be replaced – with more raw materials, mining and smelting.

Recycling these materials also consumes considerable energy, when they can be recycled. Turbine blades are extremely hard, if not impossible to recycle, because they are complex composites that are extremely strong and hard to break apart. A lot of times, the blades just get cut up in large segments and dumped in landfills – if they can find landfills that want them. The massive concrete bases often just get left behind.

All these activities require incredible amounts of fossil fuel energy, raw materials, mining lands and waste products (overburden, mined-out rock and processed ores). How much, exactly? The wind energy industry certainly isn’t telling, wind energy promoters and environmentalist groups certainly don’t want to discuss it, and even government agencies haven’t bothered to calculate the amounts.

But shouldn’t those kinds of data be presented front and center during any discussion of what is – or is not – clean, green, free, renewable, sustainable, eco-friendly energy?

We constantly see and hear reports that the cost of wind energy per kilowatt-hour delivered to homes and businesses are becoming competitive with coal, gas, nuclear and hydroelectric alternatives. But if that is the case, why do we still need all the mandates, feed-in tariffs and other subsidies? And do those reports factor in the huge costs and environmental impacts presented here?

Amid all these terribly inconvenient facts about wind energy, it shouldn’t be too surprising that a new study destroys the industry’s fundamental claim: that wind energy helps prevent global warming. Harvard professor of applied physics and public policy David Keith and his postdoctoral researcher, Lee Miller, recently found that heavy reliance on wind energy actually increases climate warming! If this is so, it raises serious questions about just how much the U.S. or other nations should rely on wind power.

As the authors explain, the warming is produced because wind turbines generate electricity by extracting energy out of the air, slowing down wind and otherwise altering “the exchange of heat, moisture, and momentum between the surface and the atmosphere.” The impact of wind on warming in the studied scenario was 10 times greater than the climate effect from solar farms, which can also have a warming impact, the two scientists said.

The study, published in the journal Joule, found that if wind power supplied all U.S. electricity demands, it would warm the surface of the continental United States by 0.24 degree C (0.43 Fahrenheit). That is far more than any reduction in warming achieved by totally decarbonizing the nation’s electricity sector (around 0.1 C or 0.2 F)) during the 21st century – assuming climate models are correct about the amount of warming that carbon dioxide emissions are allegedly causing.

“If your perspective is the next ten years, wind power actually has – in some respects – more climate impact than coal or gas,” says Keith, a huge wind power supporter. But, he added, “If your perspective is the next thousand years, then wind power is enormously cleaner than coal or gas.”

Of course, his analysis assumes significant warming that has yet to occur, despite increasing use of fossil fuels by China, India, Indonesia and other countries. It also assumes the world will still be using increasing amounts of coal and natural gas 100 to 1,000 years from now – a highly dubious proposition. And it ignores every point made in this article, which clearly explains why wind energy is not really cleaner than coal or gas.

Maybe, my friends, the answer is not blowing in the wind.

Via email

UN’s Whopper of Hypocrisy: UN climate activists line up for Burger King at Madrid summit despite UN’s warning on dangers of eating meat

The UN climate summit in Madrid has been hit with a whopper of hypocrisy as delegates and activists attending are lining up daily for hamburgers at the conferences’ onsite Burger King despite the UN warnings that eating meat is not climate-friendly.

UN climate summit attendees devoured the Burger King burgers daily, despite the UN’s loud admonitions on the alleged climate dangers of consuming meat.

Climate Depot was able to confirm that the onsite Burger King at the UN summit DID NOT offer any fake meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger. Burger King only offered real cow meat at the summit location. No fake meat burger available is even more ironic, given that the UN just gave its “Planetary Heath” award to the company responsible for Burger King’s fake meat “Impossible Meat” burgers on December 10.

With solutions like the Impossible Burger, consumers can drive the movement to create a food system consistent with the urgent goals of the Paris Agreement,” said Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications for Impossible Foods.

The UN climate summit features anti-meat protestors outside the entrance with many messages to urge a halt to meat-eating. But this did not phase the hungry meat-eaters inside.


Australia cops hate at UN climate summit

Australia’s lax approach to climate change has been called out on the final day of the United Nations climate summit in Madrid.

Among other things, Australia has come under fire for resisting proposed future emissions targets and changes to carbon markets.

Escalating tensions, Costa Rica’s environment and energy minister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez outright blamed “Australia, Brazil and the US” for the stalemate.

“Some of the positions are totally unacceptable because they are inconsistent with the commitment and the spirit that we were able to agree upon (in Paris in 2015),” he said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres also warned of a global crisis unless big emitters such as Australia can meet demands. Australia’s reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita.

The summit comes on the heels of countless climate-related disasters across the planet, including unprecedented cyclones, deadly droughts and catastrophic fires.

Along with Costa Rica, Fiji officials have also extensively criticised Australia’s stance.

At the talks, vulnerable countries expressed outrage over Australia’s bid to hold onto piles of emissions vouchers left over from a now-discredited system under the Kyoto Protocol. That approach could potentially allow Australia to meet its climate commitments on paper, without actually reducing pollution.

While Britain, Germany, New Zealand and others have slammed the notion, Australia continues pushing to maintain the loophole.

Asked about Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent assertion that his country was part of the “Pacific family,” the Minister for Economy of Fiji responded that “when you have family members you also have some black sheep members too in the family.”

“At the moment, it would seem that they appear to be far from eating at the same table,” Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum told reporters in Madrid, adding that he hoped Australia would “let go of their current position.”

Small, low-lying islands like Fiji are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms and sea-level rise worsened by climate change.

Nations are also at odds over how the fight against climate change should be funded and how carbon trading schemes should be regulated.

In addition, there has been little progress over the issue of “loss and damage” – how countries already dealing with the worst impacts of climate-related extreme weather and drought should be compensated.

Amid growing calls for action to address climate change, the Prime Minister was forced to address it earlier this week. The recent release of the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index - which looks at national climate action internationally - deemed the Morrison government a “regressive force”, saying the re-elected Morrison government “has continued to worsen performance at both national and international levels”.

Asked about that report during a press conference, Mr Morrison said he “completely rejects” it. Asked to elaborate, he only said, “Because I don’t think it’s credible” before moving on to another question.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I must say, I am delighted to see that SOMEBODY has looking into the environmental effects of extracting wind and solar energy from the natural cycles. The research referred to doesn't seem to address exactly what has concerned me since the issue first came to my mind in the 1970's, but it's a start. A good start.

Bluntly; the idea that we could extract from the environment sufficient energy to power out civilization without it having an effect on the natural cycles that energy was effecting before we diverted it HAS to be nonsense. TANSTAAFL; There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.